California legislators and labor unions have reached a tentative agreement that will take the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour, a move that would make for the largest statewide minimum in the nation by far. "Everyone's been operating in good faith and we hope to get it through the Legislature," Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno tells the AP. Gov. Jerry Brown sent the proposal to the Legislature on Monday, and it could be back on his desk as soon as Thursday. Under the proposal, the minimum wage would rise gradually, reaching $15 by 2022. After that, wages would rise with inflation, though in tough economic times the governor could delay increases.
The minimum wage in California and Massachusetts is already $10 an hour, topped only by $10.50 in Washington, DC. "I'm hoping that what happens in California will not stay in California, but spread all across the country,” Brown told reporters at the state Capitol, per the Los Angeles Times. "It's a matter of economic justice. It makes sense." If the Legislature approves a minimum-wage package, it would avoid taking the issue to the ballot. One union-backed initiative has already qualified for the ballot, and a second, competing measure is also trying to qualify. (Los Angeles already plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2020.)